Book Trailer Thursday (122)–The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Movie Trailer

Apparently I’m late to the party on this one because I haven’t read The Book Thief yet.  I started it a couple years ago, wasn’t in the mood for it, set it down, and never picked it back up. I saw the movie trailer courtesy of a few Facebook friends and thought, “Maybe I should give this another try.”  And then I felt nothing but shame when I saw the long list of five-star ratings on Goodreads.  Maybe I’ll listen to the audio during my drive to work once school starts.

The movie definitely looks good, but like I said, I wasn’t thrilled when I started reading this.  Considering the large pile of TBR books I have, what makes The Book Thief a must-read title?

According to IMDB, The Book Thief will be in theaters on November 15th, 2013.

The Book ThiefSummary (From Goodreads):

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak’s unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

Today’s post features books that I’ve been intimidated to read even though many of my friends and reviewers have loved them.  I don’t know if all of these books have been loved by many, but many of them have received awards and starred reviews.

The Printz Books:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein–I can only think of one person who wasn’t a huge fan of this book; everyone else I’ve spoken with has raved about it. I can’t explain why I’m scared to try reading it.  I’ve had it on my Kindle for over a year, and I have two copies of it in my classroom.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly–I listened to the audio for Revolution, and while the audio was great, I really didn’t like the story. I want to read as many Printz books as I can, especially considering it’s part of the summer homework assignment for my honors sophomores, but I’m scared to try another one of her books.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey–Horror isn’t really for me, unless it’s Anna Dressed in Blood because that book is flat out great.  I sampled the audio for this book, and it sounded pretty good, so I might try it that way.  Maybe even around Halloween!

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta–Sigh. I’ve tried reading this and listening to the audio and neither worked for me.  But I REALLY want to love this because SO MANY of my friends have raved about it.  What should I do??

So Many Series Books:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand–I’ve tried reading this a couple times and I can’t stick with it.  My mom has read the entire series and loved it.  My students have read these books and loved them.  My close friends have read this series and loved it.  Should I give it another shot?

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore–I absolutely loved Graceling; I flew right through it. I tried reading Fire THREE times and couldn’t finish it.  I’m scared to try Bitterblue because I’ll be really sad if I don’t like it.  And it’s super long.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman–I sat down and tried reading this a few months ago and I couldn’t pay attention.  It’s really dense, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, but I’m hesitant to try it again.  I really should buckle down and do it this summer.

Historical Books:

The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman–I own a copy of this, and I have it sitting on my shelf right now.  The summary sounds really intriguing.  Maybe it’s the size of the book, or maybe it’s the historical part of it, but I’m simply intimidated by it.

Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin–I have a copy of this in my classroom library thanks to a Donors Choose project, and one of my seniors grabbed it right away to read.  He’s a huge historical non-fiction buff, and he absolutely loved it.  This book has FOUR medals on it, yet I’m hesitant to read it mostly because I don’t like non-fiction.  It’s hard to admit that, but I really don’t like non-fiction, although I do enjoy memoirs.

Hits too Close to Home:

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult–I’ve read and enjoyed a few of Jodi Picoult’s books.  I tried reading My Sister’s Keeper when I was in college, but I couldn’t get past the first 100 pages.  My dad had leukemia (thankfully he’s been cancer-free for years) a couple years before I tried reading this.  I couldn’t do it.  I kept crying and crying and finally decided to eat the money I spent on the book and put it away.  It’s hugely popular in my classroom and my students want to talk about it with me whenever they finish.  I haven’t see the movie, but I know what happens in both the book and the movie, so I can at least discuss a little bit with them.  I always tell them why I haven’t read it, but I don’t want to not talk to them about it either.

My Sister's Keeper

Review: Star Cursed by Jessica Spotswood

Star Cursed finalTitle: Star Cursed

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release Date: June 18th, 2013

Interest: Series / Historical fiction / Paranormal

Source: NetGalley

Summary (From Goodreads):

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate’s friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn’t want to be a weapon, and she doesn’t want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood’s schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she’ll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess’s quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

First, if you haven’t read Born Wicked (my review), then please stop reading this review and go get a copy of that to read 🙂

I devoured Born Wicked and have been looking forward to reading Star Cursed ever since!  Jessica Spotswood really knows how to write an engaging story full of suspense, romance, and magic.

Star Cursed picks up not long after the cliffhanger ending in book one.  Cate is with the Sisterhood and understandably unhappy about it.  She misses her sisters, her garden, and of course Finn.  While I sympathized with Cate, I enjoyed learning more about the Sisterhood and the history.  This also opened up the story to more characters and witches, adding some interesting layers.  Some of the characters left me skeptical, while others I really enjoyed and want to know more about.

I had a tough time reading sections with the Brotherhood because they are so harsh and brutal in Star Cursed.  At times I felt like I was reading a historical fiction-turned-dystopian novel.  The laws they created and the way they started treating women is horrible!  I couldn’t help but keep hoping that Finn wouldn’t turn to their side.  A ton happens in this part of the storyline, but I still have no idea what to expect in the third book, especially after reading the ending.  This part of the storyline really draws a line between Cate and Maura and their relationship.

We get to know Maura and Tess in Born Wicked, but I feel like I know each of them so much better after reading Star Cursed.  I absolutely adore Tess.  I have a lot of things to say that I won’t say about Maura.  The situations and conflicts that take place are really defining Cate, Maura, and Tess.  One of the sisters left me speechless at the end, so now I have another thing to look forward to in book three.

The mood is a little darker in Star Cursed than it is in Born Wicked, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Finn is present just enough to satisfy my need for his character presence, but ultimately this sequel is all about learning more about Cate, her sisters, and the Sisterhood.  I tend to worry about books in the middle of a series/trilogy because sometimes they fall flat, but thankfully Star Cursed does not suffer from that.  It’s just as fun and suspenseful to read as Born Wicked.

Audiobook Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible BeautyTitle: A Great and Terrible Beauty

Author: Libba Bray

Narrator: Josephine Bailey

Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Listening Library (audio)

Release Date: December 9th, 2003 (book) / January 16th, 2004 (audio)

Interest: Historical fiction / Supernatural / Author

Source: Audio borrowed from the library

Summary (From Goodreads):

It’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

Audio Review: At first the audio sounded a little robotic and canny, but after a short while I didn’t notice that anymore.  I ended up enjoying Josephine Bailey as the narrator, but I did think she sounded a little old to be acting as the voice of a sixteen year old girl.  Listening to Libba Bray’s beautiful writing out loud was quite a treat, however.

Book Review: A while back I posted about reading gaps and trying to read more historical fiction, which is one reason why I chose to read A Great and Terrible Beauty.  I like that this is historical fiction with a supernatural twist because it opens up the audience a little bit when I make book recommendations to my students.  I also decided to read this because I’ve only read The Diviners by Libba Bray and one of my good friends was reading and really enjoying it.

For the most part I liked A Great and Terrible Beauty.  I like Gemma’s character, I like the setting, and I like the plot.  But my feelings don’t stretch much beyond like.

This is the beginning of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, so I understand the amount of plot development taking place, but the story didn’t move fast enough.  There wasn’t enough happening to really keep me interested in the story.  The spiritual world is interesting, but too much time was spent building it up instead of getting into the dangers and the “what’s really going on” part of the story.

Like I said, I like Gemma’s character.  The other girls, however, aren’t developed enough.  The girls fall into the overdone roles of dull and boring, power hungry, beautiful and misunderstood, etc.  I wanted more from these girls.  Considering that A Great and Terrible Beauty is written in third person, I thought I would have known them more.  Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

I noticed these two issues when I read The Diviners.  I really like the story and the setting for that book, but again, I finished without knowing the characters well enough and the story was all over the place.  I’m afraid to give up on Libba Bray, but I’m starting to think maybe she isn’t an author for me.  Her writing is beautiful and vivid, and I know plenty of people who love her stories, but maybe I’m simply not her intended audience.

Student Book Review: The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow

The Berlin Boxing ClubTitle: The Berlin Boxing Club

Author: Robert Sharenow

Publisher: HarperTeen

Student Reviewer: Ayla

Summary (From Goodreads):

Karl Stern has never thought of himself as a Jew; after all, he’s never even been in a synagogue. But the bullies at his school in Nazi-era Berlin don’t care that Karl’s family doesn’t practice religion. Demoralized by their attacks against a heritage he doesn’t accept as his own, Karl longs to prove his worth.

Then Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German hero, makes a deal with Karl’s father to give Karl boxing lessons. A skilled cartoonist, Karl never had an interest in boxing, but now it seems like the perfect chance to reinvent himself.

But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: family protector. And as Max’s fame forces him to associate with Nazi elites, Karl begins to wonder where his hero’s sympathies truly lie. Can Karl balance his boxing dreams with his obligation to keep his family out of harm’s way?

Student Review:

In The Berlin Boxing Club, Karl, a young Jewish boy, becomes a boxer to defend himself from the “Hitler Youth” and figures out he wants to become even more than that. As he is trying to strive for perfection in techniques, he finds himself striving to protect his entire family from the SS and getting them out of Nazi Germany.

The Berlin Boxing Club was a perfect story to show how Jewish people were treated and how they personally felt during World War II. The novel was very sad and had an effect on me because Robert Sharenow made the feelings of the characters very lifelike and I felt the emotions of the characters. THE BERLIN BOXING CLUB would be perfect for almost anyone. Especially those who are learning about the Holocaust or learning about the push against Jews in Germany.

The characters in this book were perfectly put together. The most realistic character to me would be Karl’s mother. She goes into a depressed mood any time something bad happens in her life. The book starts right when the Jews are starting to be excluded from mostly everything and she will just lock herself in the bathroom and sit in the bath for hours. I think she would be a real character because she knew there was nothing she could do. The government and the police would have it however they wanted it and the rules were just not in her favor.

Also, I liked the character of Karl’s little sister. She was getting the worst out of all of the characters because she apparently looked like a Jew so there was no way she could actually hide the fact that she was one. She gets tortured in the book and it was realistic because she was tired of being the kind of human she was and she took it out on those who didn’t look like she did and they looked normal. Karl didn’t look Jewish so he got away with it longer than the rest of his family. I could almost relate to her because sometimes I wish I didn’t look they way I do, but don’t we all think that sometimes?

I loved all f the fighting scenes in the book. Karl becomes a great fighter and Robert Sharenow wrote The Berlin Boxing Club so all of the boxing scenes play like a movie in your head. All of the scenes were as if they came out of a Rocky movie. Every detail was thought of and every moment was captured.

This book was shocking and inspiring by the way it was written and the show of determination in the eyes of a young boy going through the worst part of his life.

Waiting on Wednesday–Love Disguised by Lisa Klein

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  It’s designed for bloggers to spotlight the upcoming releases that they simply can’t wait to read.

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Like many English teachers, I’m a sucker for anything related to Shakespeare, so I’m very interested in reading Love Disguised by Lisa Klein.  The summary makes this sound like a really entertaining book that I’ll hopefully be able to “sell” to my students while we’re reading some Shakespeare 🙂

Love DisguisedTitle & Author: Love Disguised by Lisa Klein

Release Date: July 30th, 2013

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Summary (From Goodreads):

Will Shakespeare is about to meet the girl who will change his life forever. After a mixed-up courtship with the Hathaway sisters ends badly, Will jumps at the chance to go to London, where he can pursue his dream of becoming an actor. There, Will meets the unusually tall (and strong) Meg who has earned the nickname “Long Meg” for her height. She’s also fleeing her own past as an orphan turned thief. Disguised as “Mack,” Meg was once a member of a band of boy thieves who betrayed her. When Will is robbed by those same villains, Meg disguises herself as “Mack” again–telling Will that Mack is her twin brother–in order to help Will recover his money. As Mack, she finds true friendship with Will. But is there more? And who is Meg really fooling with her disguise?

What ensues is a tale involving love triangles, mistaken identities, and the pursuit of hapless villains, as Shakespeare becomes a key player in a lively drama that could have sprung from his own pen.

Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the EasyTitle: Out of the Easy

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Philomel Books

Release Date: February 12th, 2013

Interest: Historical Fiction / Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Ruta Sepetys is a wonderful writer and Out of the Easy is proof that she’s only getting better.  I was completely sucked into Josie’s world and didn’t want to stop reading.  One of the things I love the most about this sophomore release is that even though it’s historical fiction, I felt like I was reading something contemporary.  I typically have a difficult time enjoying historical fiction, and that simply wasn’t the case when I was reading Out of the Easy.

I love that this book is set in 1950s New Orleans.  The atmosphere Ruta Sepetys created is outstanding and made me feel like I was living every moment with Josie.  I don’t know if I’ve ever really considered visiting New Orleans, but I want to now!  I enjoyed how the setting affected the character development and voices of characters other than Josie.  Josie is originally from Detroit and that early mid-west upbringing never really left her.  New Orleans almost felt like another character in the novel.

Speaking of characters, I will admit that I had a difficult time keeping track of such a big cast of characters.  That’s really my own complaint with Out of the Easy because it kept me from getting to know some of them better like I would have appreciated.  I really wanted to get to know Jesse better than I did, and I think I would have if a few characters weren’t as involved in the storyline.

Josie is a smart, witty, and fun character to read.  I don’t envy her life, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching her try to rise above it.  She doesn’t want the life her mother leads.  She doesn’t want to continue cleaning up the brothel.  She’s incredibly smart and motivated.  It’s obvious that she has the potential to go places and leave New Orleans behind, but she still has to jump the hurdles that are keeping her from getting what she wants.  I loved the mystery in the story, but I loved wondering if Josie would achieve her goals even more.

I definitely recommend reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.  She’s truly a gifted writer and I can’t wait to read what she has in store for us next!

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & ParkTitle: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: February 26th, 2013

Interest: Positive reviews / Historical fiction

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads):

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

I’m really tempted to simply write, “Eleanor & Park is fabulous. You must read it now!” and leave it at that.  I’m not, however, because I really want to gush over everything I love about it.

I felt such an array of emotions while reading Rainbow Rowell’s YA debut.  I laughed plenty of times, and I think I teared up just as many times as I laughed.  Eleanor and Park come alive on the page and I couldn’t help but love them.  There were so many times that I wanted to hug Eleanor.  She needs lots of hugs.  Park is absolutely adorable and so real.  And his parents?!  I ended up loving them big time.

Something that surprised me about Eleanor & Park is that it’s written in third person.  I didn’t even realize it at first because it’s *that* well done.  I never felt like I was reading it as an outsider; I always knew exactly how Eleanor and Park felt.  I’m often turned off by books written in third person because it distracts me.  The characters in third person novels don’t always stick with me, but that’s not the case with Eleanor and Park.  Rainbow Rowell wrote third person the way it should be written.

I love that Eleanor & Park is a love story, but it’s not an overly mushy love story.  It’s a love story that’s sweet and tender.  It’s even bittersweet at times.  But it’s also a story about self-discovery and opening up.  Both and Eleanor and Park are discovering who they are, and they’re discovering it through each other and through their relationship.  Park doesn’t need to be like his friends and who his father wants him to be.  Eleanor discovers what a family really is and how to love herself.  Really, Eleanor & Park is simply perfect and you need to read it.

I have Eleanor & Park labeled as historical fiction since it takes place in 1986.  It’s awful labeling that time period as historical fiction, but for today’s teens, that is historical fiction.  There isn’t a big moment in history taking place in this book, but there are plenty of 80s allusions present that I’m sure many of my students will wonder about.

To sum this up, Eleanor & Park is already a favorite of 2013.  There’s no doubt in my mind about that.  Rainbow Rowell can’t write another YA novel fast enough because I want to read everything she writes.  Thankfully she has some adult/new adult novels out that I can read.

Book Trailer Thursday (104)–Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell in one sitting the other day, and I’m still loving it and thinking about it.  Sigh.  I’m extra happy that not only is there a book trailer for this debut, but that there’s four!  They’re mini trailers with some excellent quotes from the book.  I hope you enjoy them!

Eleanor & ParkSummary (From Goodreads):

“Bono met his wife in high school,” Park says.
“So did Jerry Lee Lewis,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be,” she says, “we’re sixteen.”
“What about Romeo and Juliet?”
“Shallow, confused, then dead.”
”I love you,” Park says.
“Wherefore art thou,” Eleanor answers.
“I’m not kidding,” he says.
“You should be.”

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2013 Debuts

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

I can’t say that these ten 2013 debuts are the ones I want to read the most, but they are ten that stand out.  Quite simply, there are way too many debut author book releases every year to choose ten that I’m looking forward to the most.  Which debut titles are you excited about?

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith (Goodreads)–

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

Wild Awake

Transparent by Natalie Whipple (Goodreads)–

Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Transparent

Fault Line by Christa Desir (Goodreads)–Ben could date anyone he wants, but he only has eyes for the new girl — sarcastic free-spirit, Ani. Luckily for Ben, Ani wants him too. She’s everything Ben could ever imagine. Everything he could ever want.

But that all changes after the party. The one Ben misses. The one Ani goes to alone.

Now Ani isn’t the girl she used to be, and Ben can’t sort out the truth from the lies. What really happened, and who is to blame?

Ben wants to help her, but she refuses to be helped. The more she pushes Ben away, the more he wonders if there’s anything he can do to save the girl he loves.

Fault Line

Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger (Goodreads)–A broken past and a divided future can’t stop the electric connection of two teens in this “charged and romantic” (Becca Fitzpatrick), lush novel.

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

Let the Sky Fall

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan (Goodreads)–Tim Macbeth is a 17-year-old albino and a recent transfer to the prestigious Irving School, where the motto is, “Enter here to be and find a friend.” Tim does not expect to find a friend; all he really wants to do is escape his senior year unnoticed. Despite his efforts to blend into the background, he finds himself falling for the quintessential “it” girl, Vanessa Sheller, girlfriend of Irving’s most popular boy. To Tim’s surprise, Vanessa is into him, too, and she can kiss her social status goodbye if anyone finds out. Tim and Vanessa enter into a clandestine relationship, but looming over them is the Tragedy Paper, Irving’s version of a senior year thesis, assigned by the school’s least forgiving teacher.

The story unfolds from two alternating viewpoints: Tim, the tragic, love-struck figure, and Duncan, a current senior, who uncovers the truth behind Tim and Vanessa’s story and will consequently produce the greatest Tragedy Paper in Irving’s history.

The Tragedy Paper

Prophecy by Ellen Oh (Goodreads)–The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Prophecy

Linked by Imogen Howson (Goodreads)–Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.

Linked

The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf (Goodreads)–A laugh-out-loud, bittersweet debut full of wit, wisdom, heart, and a hilarious, unforgettable heroine.

When you’re a hypochondriac, there are a million different things that could be wrong with you, but for Izzy, focusing on what could be wrong might be keeping her from dealing with what’s really wrong.

I almost raised my hand, but what would I say? “Mr. Bayer, may I please be excused? I’m not totally positive, but I think I might have cancer.” No way. Then everyone at school would know, and they would treat me differently, and I would be known as “Izzy, that poor girl who diagnosed herself with breast cancer during biology.”

But Izzy’s sense of humor can only get her so far when suddenly her best friend appears to have undergone a personality transplant, her mother’s health takes a turn for the worse, and her beautiful maybe-boyfriend is going all hot and cold. Izzy thinks she’s preparing for the worst-case scenario, but when the worst-case scenario actually hits, it’s a different story altogether—and there’s no tidy list of symptoms to help her through the insanity.

The Symptoms of My Insanity

Bruised by Sarah Skilton (Goodreads)–When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else — more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world — full of dark humor and hard truths.

Bruised

The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan (Goodreads)–After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

The Beautiful and the Cursed

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